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Even with JT Daniels settled, Georgia football quarterback position still has plenty of spring storylines
At the top of the quarterback depth chart for Georgia, there should be little drama for the Bulldogs this spring.
A few months after Georgia cycled through three starting quarterbacks during the 2020 season and saw a fourth opt-out just weeks before the season, JT Daniels is clearly entrenched as the starter.
Daniels took over the starting role in Georgia’s final four games. The Bulldogs won all four contests, as Daniels tossed 10 touchdowns to 2 interceptions over that span.
The California native had the opportunity to declare for the 2021 NFL Draft in January. Instead, he announced he was returning to Georgia for another season.
In the run-up to Georgia’s final game against Cincinnati, Daniels spoke about wanting to improve, especially as he gets more time with offensive coordinator Todd Monken.
Unlike a season ago, when Daniels was still at USC and Georgia’s spring practice was canceled, the two will get to work together for 15 practices this spring. With the Bulldogs also returning their top seven pass catchers, expectations are high for Daniels and the offense to take another step forward in 2021. That starts during spring practices in March and April.
Daniels though isn’t the only quarterback worth following this spring. The competition behind Daniels is perhaps even more intriguing.
While most eyes will be on younger quarterback Carson Beck and Brock Vandagriff, Georgia does bring back Stetson Bennett for another season.
Bennett started five games for the Bulldogs in 2020, taking over for D’Wan Mathis before ultimately getting replaced by Daniels. During that stretch, Bennett led the Bulldogs in wins over Auburn, Tennessee and Kentucky.
It is was the play in the losses though that defined Bennett. He threw four interceptions in games against Alabama and Florida. Even worse, the offense scored zero second-half points in the two games when he was playing quarterback. Bennett did pick up an injury against Florida, but after Daniels’ impressive performance against Mississippi State, the job was clearly his.
Mathis went on to transfer to Temple. Bennett is still around. And as we saw in the Peach Bowl against Cincinnati, he is the first choice off the bench in the event something happens to Daniels. Bennett came in for a single play and completed a 12-yard pass while Daniels was having his helmet adjusted following a sack.
While the fan base might be more eager to see one of Beck or Vandagriff, having a player with starting experience in the SEC as back-up is a tremendous luxury. If Georgia is going to accomplish its goals in 2021, it will obviously need Daniels to stay healthy to do so. Still, Bennett helps provide depth at the quarterback position and we saw how critical that was for Georgia last season.
Most of the attention though on the back-up spot won’t go to Bennett. There is legitimate interest and intrigue in seeing how Beck and Vandagriff play this spring as they represent the future of the quarterback position.
This will be Beck’s first spring practice as COVID-19 prevented the drills from taking place during his first year on campus. Beck was the only scholarship quarterback to not start for Georgia during the 2020 season. His only game action came against Missouri and the redshirt freshman from Jacksonville, Fla., didn’t attempt a pass.
Beck was a one-time Alabama commit and also drew serious interest from Florida before settling on the Bulldogs. He also won a state championship at Florida’s highest-level as a junior. While he wasn’t the 5-star prospect that Daniels and Vandagriff were, he was still a 4-star prospect in the 247Sports Composite rankings.
He also has a couple of advantages over the younger Vandagriff. Beck already has spent a full year in Monken’s system. Beck also isn’t dealing with injury concerns.